Irish Penal Reform Trust

Children of Prisoners

Children and families coping with imprisonment are often described as the ‘hidden’ victims of the penal system because they must endure their own sentence, despite not having perpetrated any crime. There are a variety of ways in which children and families can be affected by imprisonment including: disruption to child care arrangements, relationship breakdowns, financial loss and stigmatisation.

IPRT works towards the recognition and support of the rights and needs of children and families affected by imprisonment through research, advocacy, and awareness-raising activities. This includes an exciting three-year project (commenced in mid-2020) on families of prisoners, aiming to reduce harm for children and families affected by imprisonment, with a particular focus on reducing female imprisonment. We’re very grateful to our funders, Katharine Howard Foundation and St Stephen’s Green Trust, for supporting such a timely piece of work. You can read more about the network of organisations working in the area set up under the project on

Please note this section contains information about advocacy and developments, both national and international. Practical information for prisoners and their families is available here.

Scotland: Families Outside Report on National Framework for Prison Visitors’ Centres in Scotland

19th June 2017

Families Outside have recently published their report on the National Performance Framework for Prison Visitors’ Centres in Scotland. In 2015 the Scottish Government announced that it would be providing £1.8 million over a three-year period to assist the work of Prison Visitor Centres. Any Prison Visitor Centre seeking funding from the Scottish Government will now be required to demonstrate that they can meet the standards set out in this National Performance Framework.

Children of Prisoners Europe's (COPE) 2017 Campaign “Not My Crime, Still My Sentence”

2nd June 2017

On a given day, 800,000 children in the European Union alone have an imprisoned parent. Read here about COPE's annual cross-European campaign entitled ‘Not My Crime, Still My Sentence’ running throughout the month of June.

UK: I-HOP ‘Supporting children and families affected by a family member’s offending – A Practitioner’s Guide’

28th February 2017

This guide aims to enable practitioners to support children affected by a family member’s offending, with a whole-family approach.

UK: Booklets for children with Parents in Custody- I-HOP

23rd January 2017

Booklets designed to help defendants and their families to prepare for the possibility of imprisonment.

Temporary release from prison at Christmas

23rd December 2016

Christmas is one of the most difficult times of year for prisoners and their families.

UK: Family Connections

16th December 2016

The Prison Reform Trust UK, in collaboration with the ICPR and the University of Birkbeck in London have released a report on the importance of family relations to prisoners on their release into the community.

England & Wales: 'Life in Prison:Contact with families and friends'

5th September 2016

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has published a new findings report detailing the importance for prisoners of maintaining relationships with those outside prison.

Youth justice issues at UNCRC

15th January 2016

Ireland is being examined at the UN in respect of its compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. IPRT's formal submissions were included as part of the Children’s Rights Alliance Parallel Report.

Wales: Locked out - Children’s experiences of visiting a parent in prison.

4th December 2015

A new report on children of prisoners details the views of children in particular on the experience of visiting a parent in prison.

Pilot Parenting Programme in Limerick Prison

16th October 2015

A new parenting programme piloted in Limerick prison is featured on the Sean O'Rourke programme on RTE Radio one.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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